Can You Predict Business Success?

Why is Google the Number 1 search business?


Why is Amazon dominant in bookselling?

Why is Rolls Royce one of the world’s top two aero engine businesses?

Why is Apple now more valuable than Microsoft?

Superficially, these questions look easy to answer; Google because they wrote a great algorithm, Amazon because they did on-line books first, Rolls Royce because they adopted/refined world class design and manufacturing techniques and then applied them with discipline over many years, and finally Apple because they have imac, ipod, iphone and now ipad.

But it’s much more complicated than that. These success criteria seem so obvious now, but why only with hindsight and not at the time?

You could have bought Google shares at $85 a share when they went public, they are now worth around $485 a share (they’ve been over $650). Easy money?

Remember all the snarking at Amazon about being the world’s best internet bet but never made (and for many never would) a profit? During the 2001 dotcom crash Amazon shares could be bought for $0.08c, today they are around $1.15 and $800m profits forecast this year.

How many people thought Rolls Royce would survive their near collapse in the 1970’s, only pulling through with Government assistance to become the powerhouse they are now?

And Apple; now worth more than Google, Dell and Nokia combined. Remember when Steve Jobs was absent, there were no new products and it looked like they were sliding into irrelevance?

For organisations to thrive over the long term they need a coherent and mobilising vision, a way of looking at the market-place that others haven’t seen, and the obsessive application and pursuit of their strategic goals.

Who are the companies today that might be the Apple’s etc of the future?

Will Ocado come to dominate home delivery shopping? Can HMV avoid becoming a sunset business and reinvent themselves as an entertainment portal? – their results this week look encouraging. Will Ford complete their escape act from possible oblivion? Again the signs look promising.

All businesses trying to shape their future, how does your business’s over the horizon position look?